William J. Stellmach

Partner

Washington
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
1875 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006-1238
T 202 303 1130
F 202 303 2130
wstellmachwillkie.com

A distinguished former federal prosecutor and regulator, Bill Stellmach previously served as head of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and now co-chairs the firm's White-Collar Defense Group, leading a team recognized by Global Investigations Review as the Most Impressive Investigations Practice of 2020. His practice includes compliance counseling, conducting internal and government-facing investigations, and defending clients against the full spectrum of enforcement authorities. Drawing on a wide range of experience, Bill regularly represents corporations, financial institutions and their boards and executives in matters involving allegations of securities and commodities fraud, foreign bribery, violations of U.S. sanctions, antitrust, insider trading and money laundering, and ESG disclosures and compliance. Bill also has extensive experience representing corporations and individuals in cross-border inquiries and investigations. Most recently, Legal 500 recommended Bill in Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense, describing him as “stellar.”

Bill is also an accomplished courtroom advocate, and has tried numerous white-collar federal cases to verdict. For his role as a prosecutor in winning a landmark $8 billion fraud trial, the Justice Department awarded him its most prestigious honor: the John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation. He also writes and lectures extensively on issues related to compliance and regulatory enforcement.

A distinguished former federal prosecutor and regulator, Bill Stellmach previously served as head of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and now co-chairs the firm's White-Collar Defense Group, leading a team recognized by Global Investigations Review as the Most Impressive Investigations Practice of 2020. His practice includes compliance counseling, conducting internal and government-facing investigations, and defending clients against the full spectrum of enforcement authorities. Drawing on a wide range of experience, Bill regularly represents corporations, financial institutions and their boards and executives in matters involving allegations of securities and commodities fraud, foreign bribery, violations of U.S. sanctions, antitrust, insider trading and money laundering, and ESG disclosures and compliance. Bill also has extensive experience representing corporations and individuals in cross-border inquiries and investigations. Most recently, Legal 500 recommended Bill in Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense, describing him as “stellar.”

Bill is also an accomplished courtroom advocate, and has tried numerous white-collar federal cases to verdict. For his role as a prosecutor in winning a landmark $8 billion fraud trial, the Justice Department awarded him its most prestigious honor: the John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation. He also writes and lectures extensively on issues related to compliance and regulatory enforcement.

Selected Significant Matters

A representative sample of his matters includes:

FCPA and Anti-Corruption

  • Represented Fortune 500 manufacturing company in parallel DOJ/SEC investigations into alleged bribery involving its operations in China, achieving expedited declinations from both agencies.
  • Advised a U.S. issuer in DOJ/SEC investigations focused on gifts, travel and entertainment practices, resulting in a declinations.
  • Represented senior executives at an Indian company in a DOJ investigation involving the Cognizant matter, avoiding charges against the client or their employer. The matter involved extensive coordination with local counsel and navigating domestic enforcement risks.
  • Regularly advise regarding M&A due diligence, conduct FCPA training, and assist in enhancing compliance programs

Sanctions

  • Advised the fourth largest bank in Taiwan in complying with consent orders with both the New York Department of Financial Services and the Federal Reserve Board involving sanctions against Iran and North Korean, and anti-money laundering screening allegations. Achieved timely termination of the DFS appointed compliance monitor and avoided any further enforcement actions.
  • Defend the world’s largest cement manufacturer in novel Helms Burton litigation arising from alleged violation of Cuba sanctions.
  • Defended the former Chief Compliance Officer at a European bank in an investigation by the DOJ, SEC, DFS and Manhattan District Attorney involving alleged U.S. sanctions violations, obtaining declinations from all agencies.
  • Defended the former head of transaction monitoring at a Pakistani bank in an investigation involving DOJ and various federal and state banking authorities, obtaining a declination from all agencies.
  • Regularly counsel clients on sanctions enforcement issues by federal and state authorities, including managing the OFAC disclosure process.

Securities, Commodities and Disclosure Matters

  • Representing a major manufacturing company in an SEC investigation into earnings and guidance disclosures.
  • Defended a global financial institution in an SEC investigation into bond and complex derivative portfolio valuation practices, and obtained a declination following.
  • Represented a biopharmaceutical company in parallel DOJ/SEC investigations targeting market disclosures and alleging false FDA filings concerning the efficacy of an experimental oncology treatment. Obtained a declination from the DOJ and negotiated a non-fraud based resolution with the SEC, enabling the company to continue operations and avoiding bars against any officers and directors.
  • Defended a global financial institution in a FINRA investigation into the violation of trading thresholds by a London trader and a potential failure to supervise by relevant desk heads. No enforcement action was taken against the bank or its employees.
  • Defended a New York based broker-dealer and its management in an investigation by the SEC and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for potential complicity in inflating the valuation of MBS at a hedge fund by more than $100 million. Obtained declinations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and negotiated a favorable resolution with the SEC on non-fraud charges.
  • Represented a global clothing manufacturer based in India in resolving a bar by a sovereign wealth fund arising from alleged workplace and labor issues. In addition to being a landmark matter in the emerging ESG space, the matter entailed an intensive cross-border investigation during the COVID lockdown, requiring creative use of virtual technologies.
  • Represented a private equity company in connection with a congressional investigation, successfully avoiding any current or former employees from being subpoenaed for testimony.
  • Conducted a targeted, ten-day internal investigation into whistleblower allegations of procurement fraud in a multi-billion dollar project in Africa, debunking the allegations on the eve of a major market disclosure.
  • Advise registrants and issuers in SEC exams.

Market Integrity and Competition

  • Advised entertainment company in an investigation by the Antitrust Division at DOJ into competition issues arising from merger. The Antitrust Division did not bring charges and the merger was approved.
  • Represented a London-based bond trader in an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and DOJ and the SEC in the U.S. into competition related conduct. No charges were filed by any agency.

Compliance Counseling

  • Conduct benchmarking against latest DOJ guidance regarding compliance programs.
  • Counsel clients on best practices for ESG disclosures and resolving debarment issues.
  • Assess and resolve allegations by whistleblowers, including evaluation of enforcement risk.

 

Experience

Government Experience

During his tenure at the Justice Department, Bill either personally conducted or led some of the most important domestic and international investigations and prosecutions. As Acting Chief, and, before then, Principal Deputy Chief, of the Fraud Section, he had extensive responsibility for the Justice Department’s corporate enforcement program, including coordination with U.S. regulatory agencies and foreign authorities around the globe. Assisting clients in navigating challenging cross border investigations issues, particularly around data privacy and privilege, now form a core part of his practice.

As head of the Fraud Section, Bill oversaw all criminal enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including reviewing and approving all corporate and individual charging decisions, and coordinating with foreign enforcement partners. In addition, he also was responsible for national priority investigations involving securities and commodities fraud, sanctions violations, healthcare fraud, and government procurement. Bill regularly assessed the strength of corporate compliance programs, the rigor of internal investigations, and the quality of corporate self-disclosures, cooperation and remediation in evaluating charging decisions against numerous financial institutions and companies during his tenure. He played a leading role in developing the benchmarks for assessing cooperation and remediation used both within the Justice Department and at other federal agencies today in resolving corporate investigations.

Bill also personally conducted several of the most critical government investigations in recent memory, including global financial institutions for alleged manipulation of the LIBOR benchmark and foreign exchange markets. For his contributions and role in the LIBOR investigation, Bill was recognized with the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. He was also co-lead trial counsel in the successful prosecution of Allan Stanford for an $8 billion cross-border securities fraud and the largest criminal asset forfeiture trial to date.

Before joining the Fraud Section, Bill served as Senior Counsel in the Division of Enforcement at the SEC, where he led an investigation into the allocation of IPO shares which resulted in a then-record settlement, and later eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including five years as a member of that office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Bill has investigated and prosecuted the full spectrum of complex matters, and established a reputation as a skilled courtroom advocate in trials involving securities fraud, market misconduct, bankruptcy fraud and criminal copyright infringement.

Private Practice

At the Firm, Bill has marshaled his unusual depth and breadth of experience on behalf of clients, developing a reputation as an innovative problem solver, a skilled negotiator and persuasive advocate. In particular, he has a proven track record for effectively managing investigations, creative strategies and containing enforcement risk.

Selected Publications and Lectures

Bill has authored the following publications and served as a keynote speaker and panelist at various forums addressing trends and significant developments in U.S. regulatory and criminal law enforcement. His publications and appearances include:

  • Co-author, “Nasdaq Proposed Rules Promote Board Diversity: What Businesses Need to Know,” Bloomberg Law, March 2, 2021.
  • Featured, “Health care ranks second on list of FCPA enforcement actions by SEC,” BioWorld, December 29, 2020.
  • Panelist, “FTC and SEC Litigation, Enforcement and Application to FDA Authorities,” Food & Drug Law Institute: Enforcement, Litigation and Compliance Conference, December 16, 2020.
  • Co-author, “Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege and Work-Product Doctrine in Internal Investigations,” American Bar Association: Pretrial Practice & Discovery Practice Points, October 26, 2020.
  • Presenter, "Whistleblowing and corporate compliance programs post COVID-19" Webinar, August 13, 2020.
  • Presenter, "Global Regulatory and Enforcement Developments In The New Normal" Webinar, August 4, 2020.
  • Keynote speaker and Panelist, EY India Virtual Forum, “Beyond COVID-19: Re-Examining Bribery Risks and Sanctions Violations from an Indian and U.S. Perspective,” August 2020.
  • Speaker, Privilege Pointers: Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product in Internal Investigations," Webinar, August 18, 2020.
  • Speaker, "Recent Trends and Developments in U.S. Enforcement Activities Affecting Brazil," Webinar, June 24, 2020.
  • Co-author, “How Public Companies Can Minimize Risks Resulting From a Post-COVID-19 Focus on ESG Issues: Part I,” Corporate Counsel, May 15, 2020.
  • Co-author, “How Public Companies Can Minimize Risks Resulting From a Post-COVID-19 Focus on ESG Issues: Part II,” Corporate Counsel, May 19, 2020.
  • Presenter, “India in Focus: Bribery & Sanctions” Webinar, February 13, 2020.
  • Presenter, “India in Focus Part II: Whistleblower Protection & Compliance Programs” Webinar, April 14, 2020.
  • Presenter, “India in Focus Part III: Compliance Programs” Webinar, April 30, 2020.
  • Keynote Speaker and Panelist, Evolving Regulatory Frameworks and their Impact on Business, Ernst & Young Roundtable, New Delhi, India, November 4, 2019.
  • Moderator, Is Mexico moving towards a Level Playing Field? Compliance & Anti-Corruption Framework in Local and Cross-Border Business? United States – Mexico Chamber of Commerce, New York, February 28, 2019.
  • Panelist and Presenter, Enforcement Trends in FCPA and Global Anticorruption Investigations and Navigating U.S. Sanctions, Mumbai Corporate Compliance Seminar: Anti-Corruption and Third-Party Risk Management, February 19, 2019.
  • Moderator, US-Andean Investigations and Enforcement Cooperation, Andean Summit on Anti-corruption and Compliance, Bogota, December 2015.
  • Panelist, FCPA, SEC/DOJ Joint Actions, and Other Criminal Enforcement Trends, Securities Enforcement Forum, Washington, November 2015.
  • Keynote Speaker, Emerging Trends in U.S. Cross Border Investigations, U.S. Litigation Forum, Seoul, October 2015.
  • Panelist, U.S. Prosecutors Discuss Compliance and Internal Controls Expectations. 9th Annual International Conference on Anticorruption, London, July 2015.

Recognition, Honors & Awards

  •  Willkie Wins Top Honors at GIR Awards 2020
  • Recommended by Legal 500 in Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense (2019)
  • Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service (2014)
  • Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation (2013)
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (2013)
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (2012)

Publications / News / Events

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Recognition, Honors & Awards

  •  Willkie Wins Top Honors at GIR Awards 2020
  • Recommended by Legal 500 in Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense (2019)
  • Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service (2014)
  • Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation (2013)
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (2013)
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (2012)
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